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NBA Summer League Has Its Place in the NBA

Updated on July 24, 2019
Michael Mannen profile image

Sports analyst for fun. Check out my podcast: Above the Court Podcast

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Despite the recent negative trend about the sentiments surrounding the NBA summer league, it has its place in the NBA

The NBA should keep summer league is not as bad as everybody in the media is painting it out to be.

The quality of play in the summer league was not bad enough to warrant putting an end to the summer league in the future. NBA Summer league is "definitely not crap" as it is often displayed by some media outlets. However, maybe it does need some changes to the format to make it worth the time of the NBA players and fans.

Just for the record, I know people in the media often use the word summer league, they are referring to the Las Vegas Summer League.

As most basketball fans know, it's essential for a rookie's development to get as much playing time as possible. Watching summer league is exciting for most fans. Especially when the Rookie players are nervous and not performing well. It never fails to elicit excitement.

Because rookies are learning, you expect them to have a few bad games when they participate in the summer league.

Players not wanting to play in the summer league is part of a more significant trend that I have noticed in the modern NBA game. I feel like players are afraid to play these days. This is primarily because players stand to make so much more money than their processors did from playing basketball. This forces modern players to take even more precaution measures with their bodies to ensure the longevity of their career and the elevation of their level of play on the court.

It's important to revisit some history germane to summer league. Summer league has never been important to a players career. Lebron signed a 93 million dollars contract with Nike I believe in may of 2003 before he even played a summer league game. And, yes, Lebron played in summer league. So did Kobe, Tim Duncan, KD, D-wade Melo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.

In some cases, talents have been identified and verified in the summer league

Just for fun, Kobe played in the 1996 summer league for the Lakers after being selected as the 13th-pick in the 1996 NBA draft; he had an amazing run in the playoffs. He balled out and averaged 24.5 PPG for his summer league day view.

Alvin Gentry who was then an assistant coach for the Pistons said, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquire, after watching Kobe,

"He's impressive," said Gentry, then an assistant coach of the Pistons. "I have never seen a better player at his age at his position."

Another quote about Lebron from Paul Pierce taken in 2003 around the summer league time.

Paul Pierce: "When I played in my first All-Star Game in Philly [during the 2001-02 season] there was a lot of people saying, 'This kid LeBron is so good, he could be in this All-Star Game right now.' I was like, 'What?'
"Man, Antoine [Walker] was always talking about him, telling me could be better than all of us right then.:

As for the 2019 summer league, it went exceptionally well.

RJ Barrett, who was definitely one attraction in the summer league, ended up finishing well for his day view and bounced back from game 1. He had 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting, including just 1-of-8 from three-point range, and two turnovers in 24 minutes in game 1.

It was good that he did not miss the rest of the summer league because he had a bad game 1. He played through it, which is what you are expected from a top 3 pick. It will likely help him as he enters his rookie season.

I know that many people will say that it's just summer league. And that it's true, but it's still practiced at NBA basketball, and it allows rookies to get their feet wet for entering the regular season.

Summer league MVPs due rarely become rookie of the year winners or even all-stars, but just for the record Damain Lillard. Blake Griffin, Jonas Valanciunas, and Lonzo Ball were all MVPs of the summer league.

It is terrible that some players that were balling out in summer league did not get mentioned by the media like Nickeil Alexander-Walker on the Pelicans. He was probably the best player in summer league. He was selected 17th overall by the Pelicans in the first round.

In the four games in summer league, he played on average 24.3 PPG and was a good defender with 2.8 SPG. He's a 6'5" Point guard and shooting the guard. He's got a decent shot on him. He was 38.3% from three-point range in college on nearly five attempts per game.

Frank Jackson only played one game in summer league and showed how potent offensively he can be when he dropped 30 points in 32 minutes for the Pelicans in his debut.

Tyler Hero was better than expected in summer league. He was the 13th pick selected by Miami after being a one- and done for the University of Kentucky. He also showed much defensive improvement in summer league.

Hayes for the pelicans really showed his athletic ability and how he might be a great center the pelicans next season.

RJ Barrett took a while but finally found his way in summer league. RJ stuck it out and played all five games. He averaged 15.4 PPG on nearly 30 minutes per game in those five games. However, if you exclude game 1, he averaged approximately 17 PPG for the summer league. Just for reference, Kevin Knox averaged like 16.8 PPG on almost 30 minutes. For Knox's rookie season he averaged 12.8 PPG on nearly 29 minutes per game.

In all, the NBA summer league has it's place in the NBA.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Above the Court

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